Florida governor signs law authorizing random drug tests for state employees

[JURIST] Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) [official website] on Monday signed the Drug-Free Workplace Act [text], which allows state employers to randomly test up to 10% of their workforce. The act does not create a "duty" to test, but allows state employers to dismiss or discipline employees the first time they test positive for drugs. State employers can conduct the tests as frequently as every 90 days. In a statement [text], Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) [advocacy website] Howard Simon criticized the law and expressed an interest in raising a legal challenge:

It's amazing that the Governor and the Legislature would move ahead with a law that so clearly violates the Constitutional protections against invasive government searches without suspicion—especially while a legal challenge on precisely the same issue is pending in the federal court. No one should be surprised if this latest effort ends up in court—just as the Governor's past efforts to impose urine testing on applicants for government benefits and his Executive Order for state employee testing are now before the courts.
Simon said he expects that a court presented with the law would strike it down. A spokesman for the governor saidthe new policy is no different than drug-testing measures adopted by employers in the private sector [Reuters report].

The Florida government is currently facing a legal challenge to a different drug-testing law. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] a new Florida law that had required welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits. Judge Mary Scriven said that the law might violate applicants' Fourth Amendment [text] protection against unreasonable search and seizures. The ACLU-FL and the Florida Justice Institute [advocacy website] filed the challenge [JURIST report] in September. The complaint notes that the US Supreme Court has held that suspicionless drug testing by the government is an unreasonable search that violates the Fourth Amendment, the only exceptions being for substantial public safety concerns and students in the public school system.

 

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